Israel destroys 'longest, deepest' Hamas attack tunnel discovered to date
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealed Sunday that it detected and destroyed a new cross-border "attack tunnel" dug by the Hamas militant group which penetrated several meters into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called it the "longest and deepest" such tunnel so far discovered by Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the army would "continue to deal with underground threats."
The tunnel was discovered in the Jabalya area of the northern Gaza Strip, near one of the locations where Palestinians have been staging mass protests along the volatile Israel-Gaza border fence for the past several weeks.
The army said the "attack tunnel" burrowed "tens of meters" into Israeli territory towards the border community of Nahal Oz, and was connected to a network of other tunnels burrowed under the Palestinian enclave.
Another #Hamas attack tunnel, crossing into #Israel from #Gaza, was destroyed by the #IDF over the weekend. It had crossed into Israeli territory next to Kibbutz Nahal Oz @i24NEWS_EN pic.twitter.com/14DTsOXyh8— Shai Ben-ari (@ShaiBenari) April 15, 2018
The IDF said that the tunnel was detected at an early stage of development and monitored by the army until it was destroyed by pumping unspecified materials into it which make it impossible to reconstruct. It did not have an exit point at the time of destruction.
The IDF said that the tunnel was the fifth such tunnel detected and destroyed by Israel in recent months.
"Hamas continues to invest enormous resources in futile terrorist efforts instead of investing them in the welfare of Gaza residents," the army said in a statement.
Liberman said similarly that Hamas was sinking "millions of dollars" into "tunnels to nowhere" at the expense of the Gazan people.
“A tunnel in which millions of dollars were invested, money that instead of relieving the strain on residents, was buried in the sand. Residents of Gaza, Hamas is burning your money on tunnels to nowhere. We will get our hands on all of them,” Liberman said in a tweet Sunday.
The operation to destroy the tunnel came amid protests along the Gaza border since March 30 that have led to clashes in which Israeli forces have killed 34 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others.
Israel alleges Hamas is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence and said the tunnel destroyed could have been used for that purpose, saying it comes from near an area where demonstrators have gathered.
"We are operating in all sectors on behalf of Israel's security and we underscore our backing for the IDF soldiers who are guarding our borders," Netanyahu said, as Israel's use of live fire against protesters came under increasing international scrutiny.
"In recent months, and more intensively in recent weeks, the Hamas terrorist organization has been active in order to turn the fence into a zone of terror and fighting," the IDF said in a statement Sunday, calling the protests "a cover for terrorist attempts both above and below ground."
"The IDF will not allow harm to the security of the citizens of Israel or its sovereignty, and will continue to act resolutely against terrorism of any kind," the army said.
Israel has fought three wars with the Islamist movement Hamas since 2008, and the group has used tunnels to carry out attacks in the past.
Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade, while its border with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years.
Israel has also been building an underground wall around the Gaza Strip to stop tunnel infiltrations.
AFP contributed to this report.
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IL should use these tunnels to her own benefits!